Do you ever find yourself craving oysters, but it’s 9 p.m. on a Tuesday? Now, you can get farm-fresh oysters 24/7 with Little Ram Oyster Company’s Oyster Automat.
This one-of-a-kind rotating vending machine — located at the Southold farm stand — is stocked daily with oysters, shucking kits, seasonings, and much more. The idea was first introduced to co-owners Stefanie Bassett and Elizabeth Peeples by Ralph Corsini, of Ockers Oysters on the South Fork at a Long Island Oyster Growers Association (LIOGA) meeting.
“At the beginning of this year, we reached out to Corsini [who has his vending machine called “Oyster Love” on the South Fork] and he helped us out,” said Bassett. “He masterminded the whole thing, [taking] an old fruit and vegetable vending machine and remak[ing] it into a machine for oysters. We decided to call it the Oyster Automat.”
The name Automat references the popular dining trend of the early 20th century, where simple food and drink were served at restaurants via vending machines rather than waitstaff. This early concept of fast food soon became obsolete, however, Bassett and Peeples were inspired to use the name as it reflected their goal of bringing back the New York Oyster Industry that once was.
“We thought, ‘Why don’t we bring back something historic to and give people a historic experience,’” said Bassett. “We hope to expand on it and have it in different places throughout New York. We want to rotate other people’s oysters [as well as have] other offerings.”
The Oyster Automat stays permanently cooled between 36 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit — the ideal temperature for keeping oysters fresh and safe to eat. If the machine reaches 40 degrees or over, it automatically shuts itself down until maintenance can fix the issue.
The products constantly rotate within the vending machine to ensure nothing sits in direct sunlight. The items for sale will also be swapped out often, giving patrons the option to try something new every time they visit.
“This year, we realized the importance of talking about our farm and business from the female perspective,” continued Bassett. “We are powerful women doing what we love and working really hard at it. We want to highlight all female-owned companies, even within the vending machine.”
Currently, the Automat is stocked with Little Ram’s oysters as well as clam dip made by the Clamity Janes and tinned fish trios from Fishwife —all of which are products created by female-led companies. Seasonings, homemade mignonettes, kits with tools for shucking, and merch can also be found within the vending machine.
The pair found themselves often limited by their farm stand, finding it was only possible to maintain the small roadside cooler on the weekends. The Automat is an opportunity for Bassett and Peeples to provide fresh oysters every day of the week.
“The oysters are restocked every other day,” said Bassett. “We are trying to make us, our product, and our company approachable and provide a comfortable experience for our customers.”
A bag of 25 oysters, the tinned fish trios, the merch, and the shucking kits are all currently available for $35 each, with other items varying in price. You can find the Oyster Automat outside the Little Ram building at 61600 Main Rd., Southold, and find more information about Little Ram Oysters on their website.